Liturgical Season 2/27/04 World News
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Mary Page News items give insight into our interest areas, our outreach, and the many ways people honor Our Lady. We welcome your input and your comments.

Liturgical Season

To celebrate the month of February with Mary:

Marian Commemoration Days

Mary Page offers a variety of resources inviting study, reflection and meditation.  We also list important Marian dates for each month of the year.  Please see Marian Commemoration Days for the month of February.

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New Resources

A section on international stamps with images of Mary has been added to our Resources index.  The latest added was Guyana.  Expect more countries to follow.

A section on Mary and Women is now under construction in our Resources index.  The latest addition was Magisterial Documents on Women.  Expect more articles to follow.

We have revised our material on the Marian Shrines in the U.S. and in the latest version of our Marian Library Newsletter, as well as posted our answers to the following reader questions: Hannah as a type of Mary? and Explain the symbolism of the statue of Our Lady of the Trinity in Blois, France.  Under Meditations we have added an article on Our Lady of South Carolina, Mother of our Joyful Hope; under Resources we have added Teachings of the Popes and Councils on the Blessed Virgin Mary; and under Prayers we have added the following: An Act of Consecration to our Blessed Mother; a Marian Prayer of Saint Gabriel of the Sorrowful Mother; and a Novena in Honor of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary.

We have also added a new category of Orthodox Christian Resources to our list of related web sites.  Dr. Virginia Kimball, a member of our Mary Page Advisory Board, tells us that: "A whole dimension on Christology as it includes the Theotokos can initially be handled by links to Orthodox websites. These are plentiful with articles, icons, and sources."

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  News from the Marian Library

International Marian Research Institute Course Schedule

IMRI courses for the Fall 2003 semester concluded on Nov. 14.  The schedule of future IMRI courses will be posted on the Mary Page when available.

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IMRI Professor comments on Gibson's Passion

Father Bert Buby, S.M., a Professor at the International Marian Research Institute, accompanied a group of U.D. students to the Ash Wednesday debut of Mel Gibson's film, at the Showcase Cinemas in Huber Heights.  Below are his initial impressions:

Since I had read so much about the violence and brutality of the scourging of Jesus and his carrying of the cross, I had to overcome a lot of pre-conceived feelings about it. It is true the whipping of Jesus is aweful and gruesome. However, the most ascetic and beautiful presentations are seen in the person of the woman who is Mary, the Mother of Jesus of Nazareth. I was helped through the brutality by entering into the eyes, feelings, compassion and tenderness of Mary. I think this is the very best screen presentation of her that I have ever seen. She is truly the sorrowful mother, but truly our sister in the way toward the Cross. She in her humanity counteracts the sinister and haunting presence of Satan under the guise of a mysterious woman who is both seductive and ethereal. Like Mary the figure of Satan moves in and out of the scenes, but Mary's presence predominates throughout. The most relief comes from scenes that flashback to the early years of Jesus with Mary. Especially beautiful is the scene with her not completely approving of his tall table that he made in Joseph's carpenter shop and then the scene where Jesus splashes her with water from the bowl in which he is washing his hands before eating.

I realize that the brutality of the scene is now in the background for me and the other scenes from the movie are coming back as a help for entering into the spirit of this Lenten season. The movie has been a help for my personal reflection and prayer.

There , are of course, deviations from the primary sources--the four Gospels, but this is permitted to artists and poets and movie directors. I was able to appreciate the creativity of Gibson in some of the side effects like a dead donkey rotting away but having his teeth laughing in a "see I told you way" to the hanging of Judas (his suicide).

If I approach the Passion of the Christ through the eyes and tenderness of the woman who is Mary in the movie, my Lenten journey will be enhanced. She in my estimation is the redeeming (no pun meant) of the film.

The weakness of the film is the brutality of the scourging and way of the cross; the over emphasizing Caiphas and the priests of the Temple, and the terrible softening of Pilate in comparison to the horrible brutality of the Roman soldiers.

There are a lot of complaints about the historical accuracy of the way in which the Scriptures are used but we have to remember that the Gospels are kerygma ... proclamations of faith on the part of the earliest believers in Jesus as Messiah and the Son of God. Gibson as a movie maker felt free to merge and use the Scriptures in a way not permitted to those responsible for teaching the Scriptures and for preaching them from the pulpit.

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New Exhibit

Faith Meets Art

The Artist and the Bible: 20th Century Works on Paper will be on display in the Marian Library and Roesch Library galleries from March 1 to April 10, 2004.   The Galleries are open from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm weekdays and 10 am to 6 pm on weekends.  For more information, or to arrange for viewing at another time, call (937) 229-4214.

New Crèches will also be on display in our museum through November 2004.

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Marian Events

Cattedra Donna e Cristianesimo

The Marianum, a Pontifical Theological Faculty in Rome, will present an academic program on Women and Christianity from March 1 - May 7, 2004.  For information email: marianum@marianum.it

Click this link for a list of all of the current Marian Events by geographical position.

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Prayer Corner Requests

You are invited to help us pray for our Prayer Corner intentions.  Please take a look!  This site has been updated and enhanced and now allows users to directly submit prayer requests or to volunteer as a prayer partner for these intentions!

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News from Around the World

After the very successful Vatican exhibit, The Mother of God: Art Celebrates Mary, Cincinnati's Museum Center (Union Terminal) offers another exhibit of Vatican treasures under the title of Saint Peter and the Vatican: The Legacy of the Popes.  The exhibit will be running through April 18, 2004.  For those interested in visiting the display, we offer a general introduction and some samples of the various sections of the extensive exhibit.

From Zenit

Viewing the Finished "Passion"; Any U.S. Saints?

Brutal, but Not Gratuitous by Delia Gallagher

ROME, FEB 19, 2004 (Zenit.org)

I must admit, I was not chomping at the bit to see Mel Gibson's film, "The Passion of the Christ."

For one, I had heard it was violent, and I cannot stomach violence. Then, I already knew the story and its ending; and all of the pre-release polemics, far from inciting my curiosity, made me feel already fed-up with the film.

But then the call came: an invitation to a private pre-release screening of the final version. Well, we all know, calls must be answered. And that is how I ended up, on Valentine's Day, at the movies with Jesus.

So: it is very violent. It was almost too much to bear. My overriding impression was: What horror! I forced myself to keep my eyes on the screen as the Roman soldiers' steel-hooked whips ripped into the flesh of a writhing Jesus, handcuffed to a marble block, leaving him after perhaps a half-hour of nonstop scourging, a mess of slashes oozing scarlet blood and yellow pus; chunks of his skin spattered on the white granite floor and on the faces of his drunken and mad torturers. All this before he had even been condemned to death.

A listless Jesus, hair matted with blood and one eye fully shut from the beatings, is then covered with a red haircloth digging into the fresh wounds, a crown of spiked thorns crammed into his bloodied head and taken before Pilate and the crowd for the famous "Crucify him!" scene.

Jesus is so completely physically reduced at this point that if one didn't know the story, one would expect him to die right there. The coming crucifixion, one thinks, will almost be a relief.

Is the violence exaggerated? Probably so. Is it a defensible use of artistic license? Yes, I think.

Any Catholic who has sat through years of annual memorials of the Stations of the Cross and three-hour-long Good Friday services with readings from the passion, will surely never have meditated on the suffering of Jesus in quite this way. The violence may be excessive but it is not gratuitous.

The figure of Mary, the Mother of Jesus, brings an emotional gravitas to the terrible violence and was the chief reason, I think, for the tears of those around me. For while it is difficult to completely identify with the suffering of Jesus, it is less of a stretch to understand the overwhelming pain of his Mother, who watches her son from beginning to end being whipped, tortured and nailed to a cross.

One understands why Mary is such a revered figure in Catholicism: not so much for her "fiat" when told she would bear the Son of God -- that was the easy part -- but her "fiat" in witnessing his suffering and crucifixion.

Any mother, indeed anyone who has ever loved, will know the wild pain of watching as a loved one suffers, unable to do anything, and the willingness to be put in his place, if only he could be spared.

The actress Maia Morgenstern, who plays Mary, is perfectly cast. She is not a delicate, innocent beauty, but an earthy and strong woman.

In one of the most poignant scenes of the film, after Jesus is scourged by the Romans, and the crowds disperse, Mary is seen alone with Mary Magdalene (played by Italian beauty Monica Bellucci), wiping up the blood-splattered pavement with white cloths.

It is a futile act; so strange in the context, yet that is exactly what a mother does: cleans up the mess in the midst of her despair. Theologians will also note here Mary's appreciation for Jesus' precious blood, but the purely human element is striking in its own right.

As to the accusations about the film's alleged anti-Semitism, I side with those who say that perhaps Jews and Christians will view this movie through different lenses. I, for one, did not notice any overtly anti-Jewish exaggeration of the original Gospel sources.

That the Gospels themselves may contain anti-Jewish elements is a debate that must be argued with the historical-religious context in mind and only the beginning of a longer debate about Christians' contribution to the history of anti-Semitism.

That Jews may fear a reprisal of anti-Semitic sentiment because of the film, is a concern that should be taken seriously. My guess, though, is that those fears will prove to be unfounded.

I have seen a checklist of "motifs-to-look-out-for" compiled by two Jewish professors from a U.S. university and circulated widely in anticipation of the movie, based on earlier script versions they had read. The checklist asks, for instance, if the Jewish men in the movie are portrayed as being scruffy, while the Romans are clean-shaven. I found myself answering "no" to this and most of the "possible motifs."

Another question of the checklist is: "Is it fair to say that the film is so violent in expressing Jesus' torture that the theater audience will be likely to feel outrage at those who perpetrated such a horrendous crime?"

Well, I can only respond for the 12 people in the theater audience who saw the film with me (three of whom were not Christian): One is so spent by the end, that the reaction, far from outrage, is total silence.

It is a violence that moves one to tears, not anger; and invites one to reflect not on the Jews, but on Jesus.

* * *

World Catholic Association for Communication Analyzes "The Passion"

Mel Gibson's Film Within the Context of Other Movies

ROME, FEB. 22, 2004 (Zenit.org)

Here is a statement sent today by Signis, the World Catholic Association for Communication, on "The Passion of the Christ," directed by Mel Gibson. The movie opens this week. The text was slightly adapted here.

This is an evaluation of Mary, the Mother of Jesus

Mary has a strong presence in "The Passion." She appears as a woman in her 40s, striking rather than beautiful. She appears in two flashbacks. Her demeanor is serious. She says very little. With Mary Magdalene and John, she follows the passion and the way of the cross without any of the histrionics that characterize a number of portraits of Mary, especially Pasolini's mother in "The Gospel According to Matthew."

At one stage, she wipes the blood of Jesus on the praetorium floor after his scourging. She kisses his bloody nailed feet. The bond between mother and son is suggested several times by significant eye contact rather than words. The request for John to take care of Mary is included. After Jesus is taken down from the cross, she holds him in a Pietà tableau.

Most audiences should be satisfied with the portrayal of Mary. Those who find some of the cinema representations of the past too much like holy cards or plaster statues will appreciate a more biblically grounded Mary.

From L’Osservatore Romano

Not posted this week.

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Mary in the Secular Press

The director and editors of Mary Page under the auspices of the International Marian Research Institute do not necessarily endorse or agree with the events and ideas expressed in this feature. Our sole purpose is to report on items about Mary gleaned from a myriad of papers representing the secular press.

Not posted this week.

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